Anger over plan to give MPs £23,000 grant
Proposals to pay MPs £23,000 a year on top of their salaries to help them avoid embarrassing disclosures over their expenses provoked anger, as campaigners labelled them a "sneaky" move that would prevent the system becoming more transparent.
A proposed block grant would replace the detailed claims MPs can make from the public purse to reimburse them for spending on their second homes.
The plans would bring backbenchers' automatic annual income to more than £84,000 and end the need for them to submit receipts showing how their claims under the Additional Costs Allowance have been spent.
The House of Commons authorities have just lost a three-year court battle to prevent disclosure of details of spending on MPs' second homes under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
When the invoices were finally published last week, they showed the taxpayer bought a mock Tudor gable for John Prescott's home in Hull, that Peter Mandelson spent nearly £3,000 on a shower and that Tony and Cherie Blair were threatened with bailiffs over an unpaid water bill.
The Commons Estimates Committee, chaired by Michael Martin, the Speaker, is looking at a series of options, although the lump sum idea is understood to be the preferred choice.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said that it would be "disgraceful" if MPs attempted to subvert the FoI Act and to undermine the recent court ruling against the Commons.
He said: "It would mean running to the shadows when it comes to accountability and give the green light to spending public money on items that aren't connected to their duties."
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is a sneaky suggestion that is aimed squarely at obstructing hard-won transparency in MPs' expenses. People have a right to see how their representatives spend their taxes."
A spokeswoman for the committee said its report on expenses reform had not been completed.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...